Saturday, June 27, 2009

Darshak Expansions

Standard disclaimer for this blog that is much more relevant since the work done on this item approaches zero, on my end at least: This might never happen, or it might be changed significantly when it comes.

Ash is intended to see a few mini-expansions that add some quests and focus on a small "dungeon" expansion off the side of the main areas. Dungeons are linear or mostly linear sets of areas with an ultimate goal at the end. Bonus points for some new story element being added or an existing line pushed forward with each expansion.

I also haven't done any serious tweaking or balancing of Ash since it came out, and that is overdue. Probably before any expansion since the amount of work involved in that is significantly lower.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

BOTW #3: Creature Experience

We get a fair amount of bug reports about creature experience/difficulties, which is great! Getting experience right is really hard, especially at higher levels, and reports are a good way to look for potential problem areas. 

For example, there were some bugs about the new Ash ferals in general, particularly blight ferals due to their darkus. One intent of blight ferals was to reward people of that level who have moderate defense, but when I looked at the stats I noticed that luck hits were set to a pretty high level, which goes a long way to undermine that goal. I won't have that fixed this update, but it is on the list.

However we also get a lot of reports I don't choose to act on, at least not right away. A lot of times something can seem really hard because a certain training style doesn't fit that particular creature. Or the group doesn't have the right mix to counter it. It can be really hard for one person (the designer included) to judge what the "right" experience level is. So the feedback from lots of different types really helps.

While I'm on the topic I might as well repeat what I've said a few times. I tend to shoot for lower levels of experience when I initially design. The main reason for this is players get a lot less upset (in fact they usually don't even notice) when experience is tweaked up. But they get very annoyed when it is reduced. We can also get away with new areas being under-rewarding in terms of experience since the reward of exploring is still there. Everyone can tend to have their fun as long as things get adjusted in a prompt manner. I could do a lot better on the "prompt" part. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Respia vs Sespus

I wanted to make a general post about the challenges of designing compelling and balanced healer abilities. But it became clear there were far too many elements to discuss. We can save those for another post. Instead I'll talk about one that has been a challenge for me when trying to design anything that isn't a "continuous" ability, and in general anything that breaks from the current healing formula to perform something really meaningful.

Many people lament that abilities don't take enough advantage of sespus, but the problem is without some kind of cooldown system (which is another topic altogether) anything that uses spirit ends up being improved by respia as well as sespus. You end up with the same "problems" as our current system, regardless of how effective you make the ability. Note I haven't done the math for any of this so I'm at "well informed player" levels; take it with a grain of salt.

As a result of this, most suggestions I hear (or come up with) that try to encourage sespus have at the very least a side effect of being a big buff to high respia healers. And in addition any idea that attempts to increase heal speed without including faustus training raises huge red flags, but that is probably a topic for another post.

Just to summarize my opinions on healer abilities that I was going to write at length about. I generally agree that new abilities need to encourage trainers other than what the typical healers train, or at the very least not devalue them. That includes sespus. They should also open up new specialties and options for healers either tactically (on the battlefield) or in a training strategy sense.

It is just a real challenge. One that most other games also face. I think the real solution will end up being branching away from strict "healing" as the only ability of every healer (which is how most other games approach it). But that has to be done very carefully. And it still doesn't change the respia/sespus debate.